The militant Hamas made an unusual appeal to Palestinian teen-agers in Gaza not to try to infiltrate Jewish settlements, after three youths were killed by Israeli soldiers in a failed attempt.

The Islamic resistance movement issued a statement Wednesday urging Palestinian youngsters to "remember that their lives are precious and should not be sacrificed."

Late Tuesday, Israeli soldiers discovered three Palestinians trying to infiltrate the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in central Gaza and shot them dead, the military said. Palestinians said they were boys — two 14-year-olds and a 13-year-old.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for many of the dozens of suicide bombing attacks carried out in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip during nearly 19 months of Palestinian-Israeli violence. Most of the bombers were men in their early 20s.

The statement, signed by Ismail Hanyea, spokesman for Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, said, "We have called on the teachers and religious leaders to spread the message of restraint among young boys."

Adel Hamdona, father of Anwar Hamdona, 14, one of the three killed Tuesday, said afterward that his son felt sad about the "bloody massacres against our people," but he did not think the youth would take action.

There have been almost nightly attempts by Palestinians to infiltrate Jewish settlements in Gaza over the past two weeks. On March 29, a Palestinian entered Netzarim and stabbed two Israelis to death.

During Israel's large-scale military operation in the West Bank, which began March 29 after a series of Palestinian suicide bombing attacks, Gaza has been relatively calm.